August 11, 2021
Elizabeth Prelogar debated in the Supreme Court in 2019 as her former assistant to the attorney general. (Art Lien)
Nearly seven months after the inauguration, President Joe Biden announced on Wednesday that he had nominated Elizabeth Prelogar to serve as the U.S. Attorney General, the federal government’s chief lawyer on the Supreme Court. Prelogar has been acting as attorney general since January and is widely respected in the legal profession, but the Biden administration took an unusually long time to nominate—according to reports, this is because of whom the Justice Department and the White House are naming. If confirmed by the Senate, Prelogar will become the second woman to hold this position for a long time; the first is now Justice Elena Kagan, and Prelogar will serve for her.
Prelogar has debated 9 times in the Supreme Court and has qualifications usually associated with candidates for deputy attorney general. She graduated from Harvard Law School and continued to serve as a clerk for Merrick Garland, the then Judge (currently attorney general) of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and then as Justice Ruth Bud Ginsberg and Card. Root’s clerk. From 2014 to 2019, she also spent five years as an assistant to the U.S. Attorney General, briefing and debating cases in the Supreme Court.
However, some of Prelogar’s time in the attorney general’s office was lent to special counsel Robert Mueller to investigate Russian interference in the 2016 election. Prelogar majored in English and Russian at Emory University and is a Fulbright researcher in St. Petersburg, Russia.
Prelogar has also worked twice in private practice, as a partner of Hogan Lovells and a partner of Cooley LLP.
The Biden administration has postponed the nomination of a candidate for attorney general for the longest time in recent years. President George W. Bush nominated his first Attorney General Ted Olsen on February 14, 2001; he was confirmed on May 24, 2001. President Obama nominated his first Attorney General Kagan before his inauguration on January 5, 2009; she was confirmed on March 19, 2009. Recently, President Donald Trump’s Attorney General Noel Francisco, like Prelogar, was initially appointed as the Chief Deputy Attorney General. He served as the Acting Attorney General from January 2017 to March 2017, when he was formally nominated as the Attorney General; he was confirmed in September 2017.
Kimberly Strawbridge Robinson of Bloomberg Law Report on Monday Biden’s delay was due to a dispute between the U.S. Department of Justice, which supports Prelogar, and the White House, which prefers “more diverse candidates.” Marcia Coyle and C. Ryan Barber of the National Law Journal January report The White House offered California Supreme Court Justice Leon De La Kruger the general position of attorney—she would be the first black woman to hold that position—but Kruger rejected the job twice.
This article is Originally published in Howe on the Court.